Life works with principles. The kind of principles you subscribe to determine the kind of results you receive. In as much as certain principles work only for a particular aspect of life. Some others work anywhere, provided you learn how to apply them appropriately.
The 4 vital principles of career development I share with you in this post are actually from a principle I was taught in driving school. My instructor told me to always put on my COAT whenever I drive. Thinking through this COAT principle, I realized it very much applies to career development.
The COAT is: Concentrate; Observe; Anticipate; Tolerate.
You can’t develop without a goal or a plan. If you don’t know where you’re going, every route looks like the right one. In working towards attaining the best in your career, you would need to have a focus. A defined and clear identification of where you want to get to, how you’ll get there and what sacrifices you would need to make to get there.
The reason why most people don’t see any progress in their career is that they didn’t plan for progress. You can’t become an entrepreneur if you don’t have a plan. Neither can you become a director or senior member if you don’t have a plan. The plan is what provides the guidelines that dictate to you when to take an extra course, attend a conference, publish an authoritative book or just plain ask for a promotion.
In Chemistry, concentration is the abundance of a constituent divided by the total volume of a mixture. This means that concentration is about specificity. In the sea of people seeking to develop a career, how dense your concentration is, would determine how far you get. When you’re specific, you can then become saturated enough to influence others positively.
When you decide to chart a career development course, one of your best bets would be to develop a keen sense of observation. For those familiar with research work, you would know that it’s a way of gathering information. You don’t know everything, you haven’t been in every economy, but you can learn from others.
Observation in this sense isn’t always job shadowing or being in the same place with other advanced people in the career you seek to develop. Sometimes observation is in networking with others. It is in reading, learning, and applying. There’s so much going on around you that you can’t afford to miss.
There’s the potential of being distracted by what you observe, that’s why it’s important for the concentration bit to be there. When you know what you’re focused on, your observations are more directed and your conclusions can easily be implemented.
Know what is happening in your field, observe how others are doing the same things. Are they better, add them to your learner’s pouch. If substandard, put them in your “watch out” pouch. Way below standard put it in the “how to spot” pouch. Everything you observe and learn has a way of aiding you sometime along your career development path.
If you make listening and observation your occupation you will gain much more than you can by talk. - Robert Baden-Powell Click To Tweet
You would be deceiving yourself if you think things would never change. My lecturer ever said, “the only constant in life is change”. In developing your career, change always happens. You may get promoted, you may get demoted. There could be better offers or you may get fired. The wise man is the one who is prepared for change and doesn’t react to it.
When change comes, you’re better off being proactive than being reactive. The world of work has drastically changed from how it was known some years back. In past dispensations, working for the government or factories was the “in thing”. Now, it is more skewed towards working in startups or fast-paced environments.
As an individual willing to grow and progress in your career, you need to anticipate always. Set reminders, follow feeds online, attend events, network, improve your work process continually. Prepare yourself for the best and the worst. When you’re prepared, you’re more suited to choose whether whatever happens is the best or the worst.
With the onset of the 4th Industrial revolution, some people would get richer, others poorer. This isn’t just in terms of monetary value, but knowledge and experience. For those who only know bank telling, a bank app that wipes out their job would be their worst experience. But for the same bank teller, who is innovative, he can become the knowledge expert for the bank app. Writing copy and suggesting ways to get the customer hooked on the app without missing the physical banking.
To truly develop, you should always be ready to pivot or entrench. Whichever one it calls for, always be prepared!
It is very easy to forget that you were once a rookie at a point in your career. Along your career development journey, you’ll probably get to the mentoring stage. Where people are learning from you. This isn’t a time for you to awe them with your experience and expertise. Neither is time to make them pay for your past mistakes. Be responsible enough to guide them through the same problems you had to deal with.
The curse of knowledge is when you forget how difficult it was for you to grasp a concept, the moment you step into the position of a teacher. Tolerate new people. If you’re also new, make room for some of the pioneers who haven’t learned to deal with themselves. Every individual would be better off exercising some tolerance.
People are bound to make mistakes. Some are bound to disappoint, undercut or undermine you. Learn to be the bigger person. Don’t always seek to pay them back in their own coin. Some will learn their lessons and be grateful for you, others never will. But that also is fine.
Be patient in your career development. You’re not competing against anyone. And even the so-called corporate ladder really has nothing at the top. Because when you get there, you realize you really weren’t competing with anyone but your best self. Mind you, your best self doesn’t need a ladder to show up. He shows up in every decision you make, day by day, moment by moment.
I do hope there’s some significant word or concept you picked from this. As usual, proceed to the CTAs. See how they can help in implementing anything you’ve learned.
Call to Action – CTA
- Carefully assess your career journey so far, have you been following a map or you’re just flowing with the stream?
- If you’re following a map, how can you become better and ensure your best self shows up in your every decision?
- Perchance, there’s no map and direction for you, is there a way you can set something like that up?
You can speak to a matured person you trust, a career coach or senior colleague. They may be able to offer some help. If none of the two appeals to you, do this. Think about the skills you have, your experience, education, and personality. How can you use these to benefit humanity, starting from your own community?
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